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Grateful Dead Live at Field House, Wesleyan University on 1970-05-03

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Grateful Dead Live at Field House, Wesleyan University on 1970-05-03

Topics Live concert

Me & My Uncle, New Speedway Boogie, Good Lovin'-> Drums-> Good Lovin', Dire Wolf, Don't Ease Me In, Turn On Your Love Light-> The Main Ten-> Uncle John's Band-> Turn On Your Love Light

Collection GratefulDead
Band/Artist Grateful Dead
Venue Field House, Wesleyan University
Location Middletown, CT

Source Audience (remastered)
Lineage AUD > MR > ? > CD > EAC > SHN
Taped by Warren White
Transferred by Jim Goldman and SIRMick


This will probably be of most interest to the oldtimers who can still enjoy vintage audience recordings, those who collect 1970 recordings missing from the Dead's vault or completists, not to mention the 1970 caretaker of Deadlists.

I was recently given first generation reel to reel copies of The Dead and NRPS at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT on May 3, 1970 to transfer into the digital realm. I've checked Deadlists, Deadbase and The Compendium and I think this is the first time the complete contents of the master reels are together, as none of those listings include all of this material. I can also shed light on who recorded it, the accurate song order and how it probably came into circulation (partially) years ago.

According to notes written on the first gen reels, the three original master reels were recorded by a Wesleyen student named Warren White as part of an assignment for a Professor Schenk (we think thats how its spelled. The
handwriting on the reel cases is difficult to read). There were originally three master reels altogether, two half-hour reels and one hour-long reel, all recorded at 1 7/8ips. Those master reels were borrowed from Schenk by
another student (in the late 1970¹s) and dubbed to 1st generation reels by my wife's uncle - Alan Bershaw. Without a deck that would run at 1 7/8ips, Alan
said he played the master reels back at 3 3/4 ips while recording them onto reels at 7 1/2 ips, which allowed him to play back his first generation reels at 3 3/4 ips - at the correct speed.

At that time, several 90 minute cassettes (of the last 90 minutes, including all the Dead material) were given to friends of Alan's and to the guy who borrowed the master reels from Schenk. Currently circulating copies likely
originated from those 2nd generation cassette dubs, many probably way down the line since this all happened in the late 70's.

If Deadlists/Deadbase/Compendium is correct on what circulates, this new copy includes all of this material possibly for the first time. While this is still far from a great recording and its still probably incomplete, its likely an improvement over all the currently circulating copies. There are also no butchered songs and no reel stops/starts between songs like most audience recordings of this time. The geneology on this new copy is Master Audience Reels@1 7/8 ips (played back @3 3/4 ips)-> Reels@7 1/2 ips > (then played back @3 3/4 ips to correct speed on Revox A-77)->DAT@44.1k

It should also be noted for context that this is the night before the Kent State shootings, which is significant in light of the various announcements on these recordings.

During the May '70 tour, the band used campus equipment to save money whenever possible, and for whatever reason Wesleyan did not hook up a recorder at the board.

The Wesleyan show took place during a student strike to protest the war.

The recording deck was an old reel-to-reel Uher machine owned by sociology professor Charles Lemert. Anyway, at the show, the portable Uher was passed around, which explains the hilarious banter among the crowd, and the apparent inability to read a clock. It was conceived, according to Lemert, as a sociological document, not a concert recording.

The "sloping lawn behind the administration building" is actually called "Foss Hill." At Wesleyan, it's not entirely clear where Foss Hill ends and the baseball/football field smack-dab in the center of campus begins, but in any case, just calling it "Foss Hill" would certainly be accurate enough.

pb (20 Sep 2002 )

P.S. For trivia buffs, Wesleyan is also the alma mater of John Perry Barlow, who was class president in '69, and Bill Belichick '75.


Reviewer: prince minsky - favoritefavoritefavorite - January 15, 2013
Subject: Photos From The Show
This link will hopefully lead you to some images from the day:
Reviewer: light into ashes - - January 15, 2013
Subject: university archive recording
It's great to see reviews from people who were there - and I was especially intrigued by WMArchivist's report.

The additional tracks with different songs on the WMA copy have been checked, and they are from 4/12/70.

Even more interesting, I looked up the Wesleyan University Media Collection -
And they have a VIDEO of this concert.

More details here:
Reviewer: WMArchivist - - January 6, 2013
Subject: Wesleyan's copy
The Wesleyan World Music Archives has a dub of this recording as well. It lacks the NRPS tracks, beginning with the announcement about dancing in the trees just before "Me and My Uncle." It also has several additional tracks, but they sound very different from this concert. It's not clear whether they might be soundboard recordings of songs from the concert or were already on the tape that this concert was dubbed onto. The tracks are "Dancin in the street," "Good lovin’" (different version), "Deep elem blues," "Cumberland blues," and "Black Peter." I don't know if any of them (other than Good Lovin') were on the set list for this concert - probably not.
Since all of the people there at the time have reported that the concert was at the foot of Foss Hill, not in the Field House, perhaps the title of this entry can be changed to reflect that. Also, I can offer a couple of observations from looking through Wesleyan directories at the time: there was a student named Warren White (class of 1971), but I find no professor named Schenk in Sociology or any other department. And while Charles Lemert was a Sociology professor at Wesleyan for many years, he didn't start teaching here until 1982. He and Schenk could certainly have been involved in recording the concert, but neither were Wesleyan professors at the time.
Reviewer: Dokomade - - January 1, 2013
Subject: Personal Recollection
I attended this concert with a tribe from Sarah Lawrence College (SLC), where I was a student. We drove there to take a break from protesting the war--at that point SLC was almost entirely a creative engine for anti-war activities. An SLC student composer had contacted Jerry somehow—perhaps through the student’s father, who was a famous writer—and had sent Jerry some music the student had written. To the delight of all the SLC tribe, especially the composer, Jerry played the music at one point during the concert. In general, I remember the environment being wonderfully free with the few people in attendance lying on the grass or dancing or running around as they wished. Years later I attended Wesleyan for grad school and I used to remember the concert when I walked by the hill where it occurred. Thanks to those who posted the recording.
Reviewer: nobigwoop - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 29, 2010
Subject: Evening with the Dead
I was teaching at Cheshire Academy at the time, and I attended this concert. The format was "Evening with the Grateful Dead", which started with an acoustic set by Jerry and Bob, followed by a New Riders set, followed by the Dead. (The acoustic set seems to be missing from this collection.) The musicians' gear arrived in a 12-foot truck -- them were the days. High points of this collection include Jerry's pedal steel throughout the NRPS set, and of course the great Ron McKernan.

Contrary to others' posts, the atmosphere was electric, no pun intended. There was a movement afoot to bust Black Panther Bobby Seale out of prison in nearby New Haven, and radicals in the crowd were urging everybody to surge down to New Haven and participate. A moderating factor was the desire of the majority of students to simply get stoned and enjoy the music. The issue was decided when a tall, black gentleman took the microphone, and said that he had ridden his motorcycle all the way from California to help the Panther cause, and he knew he and all of us had done and were continuing to do the best we could with that, and that it was now time to chill out and enjoy some of the best music on the planet. The audience cheered in agreement, and the rest is taper history. Thanks so much for posting these tapes!
Reviewer: amazeau - favoritefavoritefavorite - June 19, 2010
Subject: A day in history
I remember this show as seemingly put together as a last minute thing. There was a Black Panther rally at the university that day, the Hog farm was there providing food for everyone, the entire atmosphere was relaxed, close and down to earth. The stage was open at times for announcements, and I remember getting up on stage a little too late to make an announcement, and tapping Bobby on the shoulder as he was starting to play the next song. The band stopped, allowed me to make my announcement, and them went on as if nothing was out of place, much to the amazement of the person I was trying to locate, who was standing at the foot of the stage looking up at me at the mike wonderimg what I was doing up there. The sound quality was poor, but the set is a must for anyone who attended, some serious moments in the history of our country happening all around the date of the show.
Reviewer: westech - favorite - March 20, 2010
Subject: Origins of my connection with the Dead
I arrived at Wesleyan in the fall of 1972 and this show was still considered legendary by the upper classmen who were there at the time. I joined a frat that year and the Dead were the most heavily played music at the DKE house at the time. Being a young and impressionable freshman I was quickly influenced by the music preferences of my older and more sophisticated "brothers" and this began my life-long enjoyment of this band from that point onward. So I attribute my love for this band to a concert that I never attended. Yes the quality of the recording is bad but along with N. Hoey's description of the events on Foss Hill I can certainly picture why this was such a legendary day in Wesleyan history. Although a very small school, a very politically active university in the anti-war movement.
Reviewer: Jim F - - March 20, 2010
Subject: ?
This is the weirdest freakin aud tape I think I've ever heard. It's just so bizarre and shitty that it's a must have.
Reviewer: cryptical70 - favoritefavoritefavorite - December 24, 2009
Subject: Not that bad quality
This is definitely an amateur recording, not professional by any standards. However I feel that it is more listenable than others have made it out to be. Granted there's plenty of talking, laughter and silliness going on around the tape recorder. But somehow the music actually comes through quite clearly. You can hear most of it pretty well. Regardless, those open air shows in the 68-71 era are just too interesting to pass up. Quite an interesting listen.
Reviewer: notthisplanet - favorite - October 20, 2009
Subject: bad quality
dire wolf was sad, trying to hear beautiful music but some fucker ruins it
Reviewer: oldbaldhippie - favorite - October 9, 2009
Subject: Where is China Cat?
This was my first Dead show--I had hitch-hiked to New Haven for the anti-war protest--and I remember hearing China Cat Sunflower, and not recognizing it at first, as it was so different from the original album. Could the reels be incomplete?
Reviewer: N Hoey - - November 9, 2007
Subject: A shame about the quality
I grew up a short distance from Wesleyan. I was 11 when this show happened but I remember this day. My friends and I would often ride our bikes around the campus. The student protests made for a very active scene at the time. I still have a "Strike" armband made from a torn sheet. The stage was at the bottom of Foss Hill, a large somewhat steep lawn. We went sledding there, snow permitting in the winter. Music was going on all afternoon into the evening. This was the first time I saw people smoking pot. While we were able to
cruise around all afternoon, my parents made me come home
and I missed the dead who didn't play till about 9 PM.
Reviewer: kingdork - favorite - May 20, 2006
Subject: Horrible!
Worst recording quality I've heard on the site to date. Completly unlistenable.

0 out of 5
Reviewer: besht2003 - favorite - July 13, 2004
Subject: Antiquarian interest
Crowd microphone periodically falls over, taper intones time checks, and the band itself is barely heard in a definitely home brew mix. For fanatics and time capsule antiquarians only.
In Collection
Grateful Dead
In Collection
Live Music Archive
Uploaded by
Jonathan Aizen
on 5/31/2004
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